Update 372


Live in Peace

On Saturday, December 13, 2008, Norbert Link will give the sermon, titled, respectively, “Live in Peace.”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org (12:30 pm Pacific Time; 1:30 pm Mountain Time; 2:30 pm Central Time; 3:30 pm Eastern Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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Where Is Our Trust?

by Kalon Mitchell

We read in Deuteronomy 31:6-7 that Moses turned his leadership of Israel over to Joshua. In that transition he told Joshua to be “strong and of good courage.” God repeats these same instructions in Joshua 1:7:

“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go.”

Joshua was to place his full trust in God.

These days we see people putting their trust in various places–frankly, in just about anything. They may put their trust in money, which Christ warned against (Mark 10:24); or, they may put their trust in other human beings (but compare Micah 7:5). But these areas of trust cannot hold up to the passage of time.

Where can we put our trust and not have it fail? Who is it that will never let us down?

The answer, of course, is God. But it may not be that simple. Isn’t it interesting that in times of national disaster, we may hear people talk about God. And they may start “praying.” Unfortunately, many fail to realize that this is not real trust. One cannot go on ignoring that there is a God–let alone the one and only TRUE God–and then expect Him to help in times of devastation.

We read in the book of Judges that the children of Israel did this dance over and over again. They would face calamity, “repent” and feel sorry for their circumstances, but after God had saved them, they would return to their old ways. The problem was that they “trusted” in God only at certain times. Their “trust” was only temporary and self-serving.

Really trusting in God was not easy for the children of Israel, partly because they did not have God’s Holy Spirit to help guide them. When they did have dedicated leaders, they followed their good example. But they did not endure. When the righteous leaders died, they forgot all about their own righteousness.

What about today? All of us who are being led by the Holy Spirit should be able to put our trust in God with no problem, right? In a perfect world this might be true. Unfortunately, Satan is the ruler and god of this world, and he tries to get us to doubt God. Christ said that trusting in God and walking the straight and narrow way would not be easy (compare Matthew 7:13-14). He said that His true disciples would be persecuted and would have trials. But He also said that there is nothing that God cannot help us through.

Where is it that we put our real and enduring trust? Will we put it in the money and people of this world? Or will we put it in God, the One who created this world and sustains it? It’s our choice. We are to choose wisely.  Proverbs 3:5-7 gives all of us this lasting admonition: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.”

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Nuclear War in the Middle East–Soon?

Haaretz.com reported on December 12:

“U.S. President-elect Barack Obama’s administration will offer Israel a ‘nuclear umbrella’ against the threat of a nuclear attack by Iran, a well-placed American source said earlier this week. The source, who is close to the new administration, said the U.S. will declare that an attack on Israel by Tehran would result in a devastating U.S. nuclear response against Iran.

“But America’s nuclear guarantee to Israel could also be interpreted as a sign the U.S. believes Iran will eventually acquire nuclear arms. Secretary of state-designate Hillary Clinton had raised the idea of a nuclear guarantee to Israel during her campaign for the Democratic Party’s nomination for the presidency…

“Granting Israel a nuclear guarantee essentially suggests the U.S. is willing to come to terms with a nuclear Iran. For its part, Israel opposes any such development… ‘What is the significance of such guarantee when it comes from those who hesitated to deal with a non-nuclear Iran?’ asked a senior Israeli security source. ‘What kind of credibility would this [guarantee have] when Iran is nuclear-capable?’

“The same source noted that the fact that there is talk about the possibility of a nuclear Iran undermines efforts to prevent Tehran from acquiring such arms. A senior Bush administration source said that the proposal for an American nuclear umbrella for Israel was ridiculous and lacked credibility. ‘Who will convince the citizen in Kansas that the U.S. needs to get mixed up in a nuclear war because Haifa was bombed? And what is the point of an American response, after Israel’s cities are destroyed in an Iranian nuclear strike?’

“The current debate is taking place in light of the Military Intelligence assessment that Iran has passed beyond the point of no return, and has mastered the technology of uranium enrichment. The decision to proceed toward the development of nuclear arms is now purely a matter for Iran’s leaders to decide.”

On October 10, 2008, the paper had speculated what Iran’s next move might be, stating:

“French agencies are divided over what Iran is likely to do once it has this uranium. One view is that the Iranians will immediately make a nuclear bomb, in order to demonstrate their capability. The other is that Iran will continue enriching uranium without making a bomb – at least until it has enough enriched uranium for several bombs.”

“Now For a World Government”

The Financial Times wrote on December 8:

“I have never believed that there is a secret United Nations plot to take over the US. I have never seen black helicopters hovering in the sky above Montana. But, for the first time in my life, I think the formation of some sort of world government is plausible. A ‘world government’ would involve much more than co-operation between nations. It would be an entity with state-like characteristics, backed by a body of laws.

“The European Union has already set up a continental government for 27 countries, which could be a model. The EU has a supreme court, a currency, thousands of pages of law, a large civil service and the ability to deploy military force. So could the European model go global? There are three reasons for thinking that it might.

“First, it is increasingly clear that the most difficult issues facing national governments are international in nature: there is global warming, a global financial crisis and a ‘global war on terror’.

“Second, it could be done… Geoffrey Blainey, an eminent Australian historian, has written: ‘For the first time in human history, world government of some sort is now possible.’ Mr Blainey foresees an attempt to form a world government at some point in the next two centuries, which is an unusually long time horizon for the average newspaper column.

“But – the third point – a change in the political atmosphere suggests that ‘global governance’ could come much sooner than that. The financial crisis and climate change are pushing national governments towards global solutions, even in countries such as China and the US that are traditionally fierce guardians of national sovereignty.

“… it seems, everything is in place. For the first time… there is an argument, an opportunity and a means to make serious steps towards a world government…”

World government, in one form or another, will come. First, man will attempt to create it (Revelation 13:3-9; 17:1-2; 18:3), but his temporary success will end in war and total disaster, as well as terrible worldwide destruction (Matthew 24:21-22). The Bible does say, however, that Jesus Christ will intervene and set up a peaceful world government which will never be destroyed–and of His government and peace there will be no end (Isaiah 9:6-7).

Growing Fault Lines Between Europe and USA

On December 9, the Asia Times Online published a highly controversial article–in fact, much of what was written must be rejected as propaganda. However, the following comments are worth quoting:

“North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ministers in Brussels have decided to ignore the wishes of the United States and delay the admission of Georgia and the Ukraine, in effect indefinitely, in what the George W Bush administration is sheepishly trying to claim is a positive ‘compromise’. The decision follows the alarm which peaked among European Union member states last August over the prospect of having to go to war with Russia…

“The decision deepens growing fault lines across the Atlantic, and next year will be clearly more turbulent even than 2008 in terms of global geopolitics. The Brussels decision is even more remarkable if taken as indication of Washington’s diminishing power over European NATO members… Washington has undergone a stunning setback in its agenda of encircling Russia with NATO. Despite the fact that president-elect Obama retained Bush Administration Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and named a person to be Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who has strongly supported bringing Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, key European NATO members, led by Germany and France, blocked what must be a unanimous membership decision.”

“War of Words” Between Britain and Germany

Deutsche Welle reported on December 11:

“Angela Merkel may have shrugged off the apparent snub of not being invited to Monday’s mini-summit between Britain and France but it is unlikely that new comments from the British government will be dismissed as easily.

“The simmering war of words between Berlin and Downing Street heated up Thursday as both Merkel and Prime Minister Gordon Brown prepared to fly to Brussels for a crucial EU summit.

“Responding to claims by German finance minister Peer Steinbrueck that Britain’s conversion from economic and financial prudence to heavy state borrowing was… of ‘breathtaking’ proportions, representatives of Brown’s government said that Germany’s ability to respond effectively to the global economic downturn was being hampered by domestic politics…

“Steinbrueck criticized the 2.5 percent cut in Value Added Tax (VAT), to 15 percent, introduced by the British government from December 1 in an outspoken interview with US magazine Newsweek. ‘All this will do is raise Britain’s debt to a level that will take a whole generation to work off,’ Steinbrueck said, echoing criticism leveled at Brown by the Conservative opposition in Britain…

“Speculation of a rift increased this week after Merkel — in charge of Europe’s biggest economy — was left out of the London summit on Monday involving Brown, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso.”

Welt On Line wrote on December 11:

“German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrueck has criticised countries for rushing through what he called crass and untested economic rescue packages at a ‘breathtaking and depressing’ pace. Steinbrueck particularly singled out British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, accusing him of switching to economic policies that would saddle a generation with debt…”

Owner of Los Angeles Times and KTLA Channel 5 Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The Los Angeles Times reported on December 9:

“Tribune Co., the owner of the Los Angeles Times, KTLA Channel 5 and dozens of other daily newspapers and television stations across the country, filed Monday for bankruptcy protection from creditors, in the latest indication of deteriorating economics for the news business…

“In recent weeks, the McClatchy newspaper chain put its Miami Herald up for sale, the Christian Science Monitor said it would abandon daily print publication in favor of Web operation, the Philadelphia Inquirer and Minneapolis Star-Tribune have flirted with or entered default, and the New York Times said it would mortgage its headquarters skyscraper in midtown Manhattan to help cover operating costs.”

Politics at Its Worst

The Chicago Tribune wrote on December 9:

“Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, were arrested by FBI agents [but later released on bail] on federal corruption charges Tuesday morning… In one charge related to the appointment of a senator to replace Barack Obama, prosecutors allege that Blagojevich sought appointment for himself as secretary of Health and Human Services in the new Obama administration, or a lucrative job with a union, in exchange for appointing a union-preferred candidate.

“Another charge alleges Blagojevich and Harris conspired to demand the firing of Chicago Tribune editorial board members responsible for editorials critical of him in exchange for state help with the sale of Wrigley Field, the Chicago Cubs baseball stadium owned by Tribune Co. Blagojevich and Harris, along with others, obtained and sought to gain financial benefits for the governor, members of his family and his campaign fund in exchange for appointments to state boards and commissions, state jobs and state contracts, according to the charges.

“‘The breadth of corruption laid out in these charges is staggering,’ U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said in a statement…”

Corruption in US Politics–Nothing New

USA Today reported on December 11:

“Its largest city is legendary for machine-style politics and its elected leaders have been under investigation for years, but by one measure, Illinois is not even close to the nation’s most-corrupt state…

“On a per-capita basis… Illinois ranks 18th for the number of public corruption convictions the federal government has won from 1998 through 2007…

“Louisiana, Alaska and North Dakota all fared worse than the Land of Lincoln… The analysis does not include corruption cases handled by state law enforcement and it considers only convictions. Corruption may run more rampant in some states but go undetected…

“New York… is ranked just after Illinois for corruption convictions…”

Did Barack Obama Know?

ABC News wrote on December 9:

“‘Obviously like the rest of the people of Illinois I am saddened and sobered by the news that came out of the US attorney’s office today,’ said President-elect Obama this afternoon in Chicago, speaking of the criminal complaint against Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich for corruption… Asked what contact he’d had with the governor’s office about his replacement in the Senate, President-elect Obama today said ‘I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not, I was not aware of what was happening.’

“But on November 23, 2008, his senior adviser David Axelrod appeared on Fox News Chicago and said something quite different. While insisting that the President-elect had not expressed a favorite to replace him, and his inclination was to avoid being a ‘kingmaker,’ Axelrod said, ‘I know he’s talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names many of which have surfaced, and I think he has a fondness for a lot of them.’…

“Axelrod this evening issued a statement saying, ‘I was mistaken when I told an interviewer last month that the President-elect has spoken directly to Governor Blagojevich about the Senate vacancy. They did not then or at any time discuss the subject.’

“There are no allegations that President-elect Obama or anyone close to him had anything to do with any of the crimes Gov. Blagojevich is accused of having committed…

“But there remain questions about how Blagojevich knew that Mr. Obama was not willing to give him anything in exchange for the Senate seat — with whom was Blagojevich speaking? Did that person report the governor to the authorities? And, it should be pointed out, Mr. Obama has a relationship with Mr. Blagojevich, having not only endorsed Blagojevich in 2002 and 2006, but having served as a top adviser to the Illinois governor in his first 2002 run for the state house…”

Consequences of Political Scandal in Illinois Widen

The Los Angeles Times wrote on December 11:

“Barack Obama and federal lawmakers maneuvered Wednesday to force Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich to step down after his arrest in a payoff scandal and prevent him from naming the president-elect’s successor in the Senate… Majority Leader Harry Reid… and others said the Senate might block any Blagojevich appointee from taking office.

“A leading contender for the seat, Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr…. said Wednesday that he would meet with prosecutors this week to share what he knew about the case. Jackson, who denied wrongdoing, has hired a Chicago lawyer to represent him.

“The congressman… has been widely reported to be the man named in an FBI affidavit as ‘Senate Candidate 5’… In wiretapped conversations, the governor said allies of ‘Senate Candidate 5’ had promised to raise as much as $1 million for him in a ‘pay-to-play’ trade for the appointment, the FBI said…

“Obama called on state lawmakers to ‘put in place a process to select a new senator that will have the trust and confidence of the people of Illinois.’ The Legislature plans to convene Monday to pass a bill calling for a special election to fill Obama’s Senate seat. In theory, Blagojevich could veto the measure, and lawmakers could enact it through an override.”

2008 Nobel Economics Prize Recipient Predicts End of Major U.S. Auto Companies

Welt On Line reported on December 8:

“Paul Krugman, [economics professor at Princeton University and columnist for The New York Times and] winner of the 2008 Nobel economics prize, said on Sunday policy makers would be unable to prevent the global economic crisis from inflicting serious damage… ‘The simple mechanics of producing a rescue for the world economy are very hard. The pace at which things are getting worse is so great that it’s difficult to see how rescue measures can come… Even with the best of understanding it can’t come fast enough to prevent a great deal of damage… I’m very worried what next year will look like.’…

“Krugman also said he doubted the U.S. auto sector would survive in the long run…  ‘It’s…the unwillingness, I believe a correct lack of willingness, to accept the failure of a large industrial sector — even if it’s an industrial sector in decline — in the midst of a very very severe recession. In the end these companies will probably disappear.’…”

Bailouts for the Auto Industry…

Newmax wrote on December 8:

“With congressional Democrats and the Bush administration agreeing in principle during the weekend to drop a few billion on General Motors and Chrysler, all signs point to a government-backed auto industry bailout [and] an unprecedented investment in private industry…

“Ford’s chief executive Alan Mulally earned $22 million in total compensation last year – a year that helped push the company toward oblivion…  Plenty other uniquely American industries are taking it on the chin, and no one is calling for a bailout of those sectors… the high end of the bailout range keeps them [the Big Three] in business for about a year. Then what? Without major changes in their business model, they’ll simply be coming back to Washington with their hands out again.

“… this current ‘bailout’ bears no resemblance to the rescue of Chrysler in 1980. In 1980, Congress passed, and President Carter signed, a law giving a U.S. government guarantee of a private $1.5 billion loan to Chrysler. Not one dollar of taxpayer funds was ever used in the deal…”

… Maybe Not…

The Associated Press reported on December 11:

“A House-passed bill to speed $14 billion in loans to Detroit’s automakers stands on shaky ground in a bailout-weary Congress, undermined by Republican opposition that could derail the emergency aid in the Senate.

“Republicans are challenging lame-duck President George W. Bush on the proposal, arguing that any support for the domestic auto industry should carry significant concessions from autoworkers and creditors and reject tougher environmental rules imposed by House Democrats.

“The House approved the plan late Wednesday on a vote of 237-170. It would infuse money within days into cash-starved General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC. Ford Motor Co., which has said it has enough cash to make it through 2009, would also be eligible for federal aid.

“Supporters cited dire warnings from GM and Chrysler executives, who have said they could run out of cash within weeks, and concerns that a carmaker collapse would erase tens of thousands of jobs and jolt an already bleak economy.

“Democrats and the Bush White House hoped the Senate would vote on the legislation as early as Thursday. But based on concerns raised by GOP senators – and a still-uncertain level of support even among Democrats – they had a lot of work to do.

“A leading Senate Republican opponent said Thursday that he cannot back spending $14 billion of taxpayer money on a plan that would call for a restructuring of the industry, but which fails to detail just how that would be accomplished…

“The measure’s murky outlook reflected the difficulty of approving another federal financial rescue on the heels of the deeply unpopular, $700 billion Wall Street bailout, as the clock ticks down on the current Congress and Bush’s influence is at a low ebb… Opposition wasn’t limited to Republicans… The automakers initially asked Congress for $25 billion, then returned two weeks later to plead for as much as $34 billion…”

Grim Outlook for US Economy

The following facts, as reported in the quoted article below, should serve as a wake-up call for those who didn’t or don’t expect the U.S. economy to face tough times ahead. Even the article’s use of words such as “unexpected” or “more than expected,” in relationship to bad developments within our economy, shows how little our financial experts are in touch with reality.

The Associated Press reported on December 11:

“New claims for jobless benefits rose more than expected last week, exceeding even gloomy expectations for an economy stuck in a recession that seems to be deepening… New jobless claims last week reached their highest level since November 1982, though the labor force has grown by about half since then… Also Thursday, the U.S. trade deficit rose unexpectedly in October as a spreading global recession dampened sales of U.S. products overseas…

“In just the first two months of the budget year that started Oct. 1, the budget deficit totaled $401.6 billion, nearly matching the record gap of $455 billion posted for all of last year… Economists expect the deficit will top $1 trillion in the current budget year, which would be a post-World War II high when measured as a percentage of the economy…

“The Labor Department said last week that employers cut a net total of 533,000 jobs in November and the unemployment rate reached 6.7 percent, a 15-year high. The rate would have been higher, except that more than 400,000 Americans gave up looking for a new job and weren’t counted in the labor force.

“Companies have eliminated a net total of 1.9 million jobs this year, and some economists project the total cuts could reach 3 million by the spring of 2010.”

Bleak Outlook for World Economy

The Telegraph wrote on December 9:

“Politicians must prepare themselves for the possibility that global economic growth shrinks for the first time since the Second World War, according to the World Bank. In comments which underline the scale of the international recession, the Washington-based institution said even as things stand growth next year will be the worst since comparable records began in 1970… The warning will be seen as a final blow for those who held out hope that some countries would be insulated from the recession…

“As the recession spreads far beyond the borders of the United States, both rich and poor countries will suffer a slump of unprecedented scale, the Bank said in its latest review of the world’s economic prospects. Global trade, the real engine of wealth generation, will contract for the first time since 1982. “

Cybersecurity One of Most Urgent National Security Problems

DailyTech wrote on December 9:

“A new report issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies urges President-elect Barack Obama to create a new White House department aimed at protecting U.S. cyber interests from hackers and other foreign agents. ‘America’s failure to protect cyberspace is one of the most urgent national security problems facing the new administration that will take office in January 2009,’ the report states.  Cyber safety is ‘a battle fought mainly in the shadows.  It is a battle we are losing’…

“‘The United States must treat cybersecurity as one of the most important national security challenges it faces,’ according to the report… the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not been able to properly secure U.S. government computers from cyber attacks, and should no longer have the responsibility.  DHS isn’t suited to handle technology issues, as the agency uses ‘archaic’ methods that cannot keep up with new attacks.”

President Bush Confused About the Bible

The New York Times reported on December 8:

“President George W. Bush said his belief that God created the world is not incompatible with scientific proof of evolution… ‘I think you can have both… I think that God created the earth, created the world; I think the creation of the world is so mysterious it requires something as large as an [A]lmighty and I don’t think it’s incompatible with the scientific proof that there is evolution… I happen to believe that evolution doesn’t fully explain the mystery of life.’

“Interviewer Cynthia McFadden asked Bush if the Bible was literally true… ‘Probably not. … No, I’m not a literalist, but I think you can learn a lot from it… the important lesson is “God sent a son”‘… The president also said that he prays to the same God as those with different religious beliefs.”

Tensions Are Mounting Between India and Pakistan

AFP wrote on December 9:

“Pakistan said Tuesday it would not hand over suspects in the Mumbai [formerly Bombay] terror strikes to India and warned that while it wanted peace with its neighbour, it was ready for war if New Delhi decided to attack.

“The remarks came as Indian police on Tuesday released the names of nine suspected gunmen killed in the carnage, reiterating that all of them came from Pakistan.

“Tensions have been mounting between the nuclear-armed neighbours after India said it was keeping all options open following last month’s attacks on its financial capital, where 172 people were killed and more than 300 wounded…

“Indian officials say the hardline Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which is based in Pakistan despite being banned by the government, is behind the bloodshed, and Indian media have suggested there could be Indian strikes on militant camps…

“The minister said India’s demands for the extradition of suspects in the Mumbai attacks were out of the question and that Pakistan, which has arrested 16 people since Saturday, would keep them on home soil…

“India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence from Britain and nearly came to a fourth in 2001 after an attack on the Indian parliament that was blamed on Lashkar-e-Taiba…”

Greece’s Worst Civil Unrest in Decades

Deutsche Welle reported on December 8:

“Rioting and protests over the shooting of a teenager by police continued to spread across Greece Monday, leaving authorities frustrated by their inability to stop the country’s worst civil unrest in decades…

“Hundreds of students, armed with fire bombs and stones, clashed with police and smashed storefronts in the northern port city of Thessaloniki on Monday while gangs of youths attacked police stations and government buildings in Athens. From the northern city of Veria to the central city of Trikala, students battled riot police who retaliated by firing tear gas. On Crete, gangs of high school students threw chairs, wood and rocks at security forces…

“Confrontations between protesters and police also broke out in Berlin, London and Cyprus as youths occupied Greek diplomatic missions… University professors [in Greece] meanwhile began a three-day walkout on Monday and tens of thousands of students refused… to attend classes, in protest.”

Der Spiegel Online described the situation in Greece on December 9 as the “Nightmare before Christmas.”

It added on December 11:

“As Greece entered its sixth day of unrest sparked by the police shooting of a 15-year-old boy, violence spread to other parts of Europe on Thursday. Solidarity protests in cities including Rome, Madrid and Copenhagen turned into skirmishes between demonstrators [mainly left-wing radicals] and police.”

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Are Bible translations valid, and how can we really trust that we are able to understand the original meaning of Scripture?

Bible translations are most certainly the way we can understand the Word of God in our own language. The Bible offers proof of this fact, and it further reveals additional keys that will determine whether or not we have true understanding of what is written.

On the Day of Pentecost, miraculous events took place that included the giving of God’s Holy Spirit. Note what occurred:

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with OTHER TONGUES, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone HEARD THEM SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, EACH IN OUR OWN LANGUAGE IN WHICH WE WERE BORN? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking IN OUR OWN TONGUES the wonderful works of God.’ So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’” (Acts 2:4-12).

What those assembled heard was the Gospel being preached. They heard the truth of God in their own language, and as the account shows, there were many who came from other countries and who spoke other languages.

The very fact that God caused this miracle in order to teach His truth also places great importance on the fact that people would be able to understand God’s Word as it was taught in their own native tongue.

Remember, it is God Who first caused a mixture of languages to be spoken (compare Genesis 11:7, 9).

At different times various disciples spoke in tongues (compare Acts 10:46; 19:6); that is, God supernaturally enabled them on those occasions to speak in another human tongue or language which they had not studied before. These miraculous occurrences served to reinforce what happened on the Day of Pentecost—that the Gospel would be able to be taught in all of the world and in all languages.

Paul had apparently studied many different languages and was able to speak and understand them (compare 1 Corinthians 14:18)—including Hebrew, the ancient language used by the religious leaders of Judah (compare Acts 21:37-40). However, he made a point of explaining that the spoken words should be easy to understand:

“There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me” (1 Corinthians 14:10-11).

At the present time, no original manuscripts of the Bible in either Hebrew or Greek are extant. Rather, we have faithfully preserved copies that have survived impossible odds over many, many centuries! None of the original writings from any of the writers of the New or Old Testament are available today. And, yet, we do have the Bible, and we have it, partly because it was translated into understandable languages.

An example is the Septuagint, a Greek translation from the Hebrew that was popular among Greek-speaking Jews around the time of Christ. It contains more books than the accepted Hebrew (Masoretic) text, but through careful scholarship, those have been classified as apocryphal and are not a part of the accepted books that comprise the Old Testament—at least, among translations that follow the pattern of those such as the Authorized or King James Version. One reason is that the apocrypha contradict the inspired and preserved Word of God–and God’s Word cannot and does not contain errors or contradictions (compare John 10:35).

Early Christians were more familiar with the Greek and Aramaic languages than that of Hebrew. The online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, in an article about the New Testament, points out: “The common languages spoken by both Jews and Gentiles in the Holy Land at the time of Jesus were Aramaic, Koine Greek, and to a limited extent a colloquial dialect of Mishnaic Hebrew. Despite this, it is generally believed that the original text of the New Testament was most likely written in Koine Greek, the vernacular dialect in 1st century Roman provinces of the Eastern Mediterranean, and later translated into other languages, most notably, Latin, Syriac, and Coptic.”

Bible translation has occupied entire lifetimes of countless individuals, and it has been the focus of various religious organizations as well as kings and governments. Translations available to us, today, fall into three general categories: (1.) a literal, word for word translation from the earliest known copies in Hebrew and Greek into modern languages–such as The Authorized Version and The New King James Bible; (2.) so called “thought for thought” translations, or, dynamic-equivalent versions, that focus on contemporary language usage in equivalent words and phrases–such as The New International Version; (3.) paraphrased editions that attempt to restate words and phrases with the introduction of added statements–such as The Living Bible.

While using all three types of translations when studying the Bible can be beneficial, only literally translated editions—such as the New King James Version (for English)—should be depended on for doctrinal clarity. But even they may contain errors due to inaccurate translations, and it is therefore necessary and important that a faithful minister of God explains and corrects such errors (compare Romans 10:14-15). Study Bibles providing added cross references and historical explanations along with Bible Dictionaries also are helpful aids and can be very useful.

Undoubtedly, our resources for Bible study are virtually unlimited. We have computer programs that make commentaries and the myriad of translations instantly accessible in a variety of languages. For example, www.searchgodsword.com along with www.e-sword.com and www.biblegateway.com are some of the sites that expand our ability to research the Word of God.

Yet for all of these remarkable resources, to truly understand the original meaning of Scripture, another dimension must be available to us!

We must stand in awe of the true Author of the Bible, for it is God Who has both inspired and then preserved His Word throughout man’s history. His Word also reveals the starting point for anyone who seeks to know about God and what He has written:

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Psalm 111:10).

Obedience to God is the unfaltering key that we must have if we really do want to understand. In addition, God decides WHEN to reveal certain aspects of His understanding:

Daniel was told by Michael, an archangel and spirit being of immense power and responsibility before God, to, “‘…Go your way, Daniel, for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end’” (Daniel 12:9). Daniel wrote what he saw, but, at that time, he didn’t understand—nor could he! (verse 8). Compare also Matthew 13:16-17 and Ephesians 3:8-12.

More is explained by Peter about the fact that the Word of God has been preserved to reveal God’s Will at the times of His choosing: “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ [which] was in them was indicating when [it] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Please also note–in passing–that “no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). Compare also Psalm 45:1.

In another example, we find that the disciples of Jesus Christ–those who had followed Him throughout His ministry–did not understand certain prophecies in the Old Testament about Christ until He opened their minds: ”And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures” (Luke 24:45).

On the other hand, Peter testified at one time that Jesus was “‘…the Christ, the Son of the living God’” (Matthew 16:16). How did he know? Jesus explained to him: “‘…Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father, who is in heaven’” (verse 17).

Paul understood that the record of God’s Word holds a tremendous purpose and that God is communicating to us through it: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

In the book of Revelation, we find this explanation about the purpose of the Book: “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants—things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John, who bore witness to the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, to all things that he saw. Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:1-3).

Consider how few really do understand the book of Revelation or any of the books of the Bible! While estimates range into the billions of Bibles that have been printed and distributed all over the earth in all the major languages, still, understanding remains the issue, because people are not willing to obey what God says (compare John 7:17).

God can reveal His Will to you! He can do it through the voice of a true minister; through the example of a true follower of Christ; or, through His written Word—and even through words written about the Bible! To help you understand the momentous times we are now living in–called the “end of the age” in the Bible, please read our free booklet, titled, “Is That in the Bible?–The Mysteries of the Book of Revelation.”

Lead Writers: Dave Harris and Norbert Link

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Preaching the Gospel and Feeding the Flock

US Contributions for 2008:

Donations and contributions received with letters postmarked in 2008 AND with enclosed written checks, dated in 2008, will be included in the detailed donation receipts for 2008. These receipts will be printed and sent out in mid-January of 2009. Cash contributions must also be received prior to January 1, 2009 (or, if sent by letter, the letter must be postmarked in 2008), in order to be included in the donation receipts for 2008. All contributions not falling into the categories described above will not be included in the donation receipts for 2008.

New StandingWatch programs and German translation:

A new StandingWatch program was posted on StandingWatch, Google Video and YouTube. It is titled, “No Christmas in the Early Church.” In the program, Norbert Link asks the following questions: Why did Christians fail to observe Christmas until the fourth century? Why did, at times, England and the USA outlaw Christmas celebrations? Why and when was December 25 chosen as the birthday of Christ? What does the Christmas tree have to do with the birth of Jesus? The answers might surprise and challenge you.

Norbert Link recorded a German version of the program on Christmas, which will be posted shortly on You Tube and our German Website, “AufPostenStehen.”

In addition, the new German translation of our booklet on Christmas was also posted on our German Website.

Recent comments from our StandingWatch viewers:

— Personally I take offense to people celebrating this pagan holiday and pretending that my Lord has anything to do with it. The word Christ means “anointed one or messiah”– now tell me how you can have an “anointed one” tree?

— We live in a blind and weak society. Blind because we refuse to see the truth, and weak because some see the truth and refuse to live by it.

— The origins of Christmas and other man-made holidays are so easy to find, but people really don’t want to know the truth. They would rather engage in holiday activities for the sheer entertainment and self-indulgence than adhere to God’s Word.

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How This Work is Financed

This Update is an official publication by the ministry of the Church of the Eternal God in the United States of America; the Church of God, a Christian Fellowship in Canada; and the Global Church of God in the United Kingdom.

Editorial Team: Norbert Link, Dave Harris, Rene Messier, Brian Gale, Margaret Adair, Johanna Link, Eric Rank, Michael Link, Anna Link, Kalon Mitchell, Manuela Mitchell, Dawn Thompson

Technical Team: Eric Rank, Shana Rank

Our activities and literature, including booklets, weekly updates, sermons on CD, and video and audio broadcasts, are provided free of charge. They are made possible by the tithes, offerings and contributions of Church members and others who have elected to support this Work.

While we do not solicit the general public for funds, contributions are gratefully welcomed and are tax-deductible in the U.S. and Canada.

Donations should be sent to the following addresses:

United States: Church of the Eternal God, P.O. Box 270519, San Diego, CA 92198

Canada: Church of God, ACF, Box 1480, Summerland, B.C. V0H 1Z0

United Kingdom: Global Church of God, PO Box 44, MABLETHORPE, LN12 9AN, United Kingdom

©2024 Church of the Eternal God